“Ah, we’ll let them alone in the bank”

Bertie Ahern claims he has no questions to answer.. but the PDs are meeting today to talk about it anyway. And with Bertie being grilled at the manifesto launch, not to mention the other details in the Irish Times today, including what Bertie refers to as a “difference of views” about some of the earlier ‘dig-outs’, there’s a lot for Michael McDowell to reflect on. [inappropriate and imprudent, again? – Ed]

Earlier, at a PD press conference on health, Mr McDowell said he would have to “reflect” before deciding on whether he would need extra clarification from Mr Ahern in advance of signing up to any post-election coalition with Fianna Fáil. “There is material now coming into the public domain that changes the position. I believe that there are a number of things on which I would want to reflect. I don’t want to say more than that at this stage,” he said.

Adds As SS notes in the comment zone, and RTÉ and IrishElection.com have more, the PD’s have issued a brief statement

The discussion analysed the import of information relating to the purchase of Mr Ahern’s home. It was agreed that the new information is highly significant.

That “difference of views” is worth looking at

The tribunal was also told that in 2005 Mr O’Connor was asked by Mr Richardson to recall the details of the payment, and again in 2006. On both occasions he told Mr Richardson that the donation was an NCB rather than a personal contribution.

Last October, Mr Ahern told RTÉ and the Dáil that the payment was a personal contribution from Mr O’Connor and that like other payments from Irish friends at the time, he had accepted it on the basis that it was a loan.

Later last year he said he had repaid the loans to all his friends, along with interest.

Mr O’Connor has informed the tribunal that, despite his comments to Mr Richardson in 2005 and 2006, he had received an unsolicited cheque from Mr Ahern purporting to be the return of the £5,000 plus interest. He said he did not cash the cheque.

Mr Ahern said he had regular contact with Mr O’Connor in 1993 as he was providing advice to him in his role as minister for finance.

Mr Ahern said that when NCB gave donations to the party, the cheques were made directly to Fianna Fáil. The £5,000 payment was not made in such a manner and Mr Ahern said he believed it was self-evident that the payment was not intended for the party.

Mr Ahern was also told that Mr O’Connor would take issue with Mr Ahern’s description of him as a close personal friend. Mr Ahern said Mr O’Connor may not be as close to him as others who had given him money, but he would have still considered him a close enough friend.

Mr Ahern said he did not think Mr Richardson had told him of what Mr O’Connor had said in 2005 and 2006. Up to autumn of last year he believed the money had been a personal contribution to him from Mr O’Connor.

Inquiries by the tribunal discovered that in fact NCB wrote a cheque to Euro Workforce Ltd for £6,050 in December 1993, a company for which Mr Richardson has on occasion worked as a consultant. The NCB accounts record the payment as £5,000 plus VAT, for a health and safety survey. Mr O’Connor has said the survey was never carried out.

The tribunal has also established that the cheque was not cashed until April 1994 and so could not have formed part of the December 1993 payment to Mr Ahern. Mr Ahern said the £5,000 was received by him in the form of a bank draft made out to Mr Richardson.

And the IT’s editorial wants to know why [subs req] the Mahon tribunal is requesting that they “desist from publishing” [stop asking “stupid” questions? – Ed]

The Irish Times received a letter from the Mahon tribunal last evening “to request” this newspaper to “desist from publishing” reference to information obtained from the unauthorised disclosure of documents necessarily circulated to a number of parties. The request was made in “the interest of the constitutional rights of all individuals affected by such premature disclosure”.

This newspaper has investigated the Taoiseach’s finances because it has an equal constitutional duty to serve the public’s right to know about its leaders, especially during an election campaign. Are we now to be silenced?

This can’t but be an issue in the campaign.Whether it is a deciding issue or not in the general election remains to be seen.

Also worth noting are a couple of scenes from Miriam Lord’s piece accompanying Bertie on the campaign trail..

An elderly man on two crutches barred his way into a chemist shop. “I’ve two artificial hips. Would you ever do something? I’m knackered.”

As he spoke, Bertie gently kept a hand on his wrist. “How’s the hips. Are they paining you?” And with that, as the man started to move, the Taoiseach and Minister Noel Dempsey placed solicitous hands on each arm and helped him down the step.”

You do what you have to do at election time. With the politicians inside, the man waved a crutch in air and wheezed: “I’m in the limelight for the first time in my life. Now f*** off, the lot of yis.”

Bertie hared across the road and found himself outside the Bank of Ireland. He went in the main entrance, stopped at the inner doors, thought to himself and turned on his heels.

“Ah, we’ll let them alone in the bank,” he announced breezily, as a passer-by muttered something about opening another account.

In Longford, there was a man playing the fiddle on the street. Like lightning, Bertie’s tour manager ran ahead, and stood between him and the Taoiseach and the photographers.

No chance of a photograph appearing with the words “Bertie” and “fiddle” in the caption.

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  • SuperSoupy

    The word on politics.ie and from Charlie Bird is the PDs will pull the plug on their relationship with FF at 1400 tomorrow after a 1200 meeting of the parliamentary party.

  • The Dubliner

    The PDS are finished as a political party. They know they’ll not be returned with the numbers of TDs needed to form a coalition with FF (they’ll be lucky to hold two seats). They also know that FF will form a coalition with Labour. Ergo, this is simply a desperate tactic to gains votes from the gullible by attempting to pass themselves off as a ‘whiter-than-FF’ party of principle – instead of a sinking ship with paniced rats scurrying around the deck.

  • SuperSoupy

    Dubliner,

    I seen this tactic elsewhere and didn’t buy it then either.

    Bertie and as a result FF have serious questions about financial integrity being raised. Claiming others are raising these questions/concerns with an agenda isn’t addressing them.

  • JG

    Ahhh the old “the PDs are finished” line that gets wheeled out before every election!

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    The PDs are correct to pull out – but they should have done it when Bertie was doing his crying act on telly 9 months ago when we were expected to believe that the minsiter of finance didn’t have a chque book. FF in government are a shocking indictment of the gullibility/ignorance of the Irish electorate.

  • SuperSoupy

    David Cochrane, politics.ie’s version of Mick, has early detail of the new information on Ahern set to break in the Mail on Sunday and behind the PD/FF fall out.

    EXCLUSIVE TO POLITICS.IE

    The Mail on Sunday will tomorrow morning accuse Bertie Ahern of lying to the country last Thursday when he said the 30k was intended for Ceila Larkin.

    The paper will exclusively reveal detail of transcripts they have from the Mahon tribunal which reveal that the money was intended for him, and not his then partner as he told the press on Thursday.

  • sammaguire

    Looking forward to seeing Mary Harney grovelling to try and get back into the mother party in the not too distant future. McDowell can always go back to the bar when he loses his seat. Methinks the next Tanaiste will bear whiskers! (Precedent Jim Dooge being made minister by Garret The Good without actually being elected).

  • PeaceandJustice

    While we should be concerned with the situation within FF, what about the biggest corruption of all? i.e. Sinn Fein-IRA having robbed banks and businesses in the past being allowed to keep the money while going into Government in Northern Ireland. SF-IRA have used their wealth to influence elections and buy up property in both the Republic of Ireland and the UK. Why is there no enquiry? Oh yes, that’s because they murdered people so now that they have stopped we have to treat them differently to other politicians as a reward. Even the DUP goes along with this line of thinking. Now that’s what I call real corruption.

  • The Dubliner

    Do you mean on this thread?

    http://sluggerotoole.com/index.php/weblog/comments/that-was-not-my-money/

    There are no questions that have not been answered by Bertie Ahern to the satisfaction of any objective observer. Come back when you have evidence instead of questions.

    And while the PDs will not have enough seats to join FF in coalition post-election, the Shinners should see it as an opportunity for them to make up the numbers. Brown envelopes are one thing but extortion racketeers and bank robbers are quite another.

  • The Dubliner

    My post above is addressed to SS.

  • The Dubliner

    grrr…

    “…the Shinners shouldn’t see it as an opportunity for them to make up the numbers.”

  • SuperSoupy

    Ah, you’re a FiannaFailure. Today’s breaking news explains your sexist outburst elsewhere, angry angst.

    Let’s see what the Mail on Sunday has to say. Bertie’s answers to Vincent seem to have been lies.

    As for trying to twist this to a SF or PD issue, as you and P&J do, it’s transparent and not working.

    It’s a FF issue and spinning doesn’t seem to be working. Hand in the jar again.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Dubliner,

    Bertie was Charlie’s bagboy/treasuer – signed cheques without enquiring what/who they were for – some of which was money spent inappropriately.

    The fundraising in Manchester looked to most to be on the wrong side of his own guidelines and he tells us he did not have a bank acount -how convenient and tollay unbelievable unless in the context of concealment.

    It is an indictment of Southern Irish politics that he was not booted out of office for either or both of the above.

    Lets be honest in the UK he would be dead in the polical water. FF are ten times worse than the tories were at the height of their sleaze and must have the worst record of corruption in Western Europe -the Scilians must be in awe.

  • hotdogx

    It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it on May
    Dont try to tell us the UK is better, it created NI its probably one of the most corrupt regimes on the plannet a queen equivalent of a president permanently in power, oh yeah remind us what ” THE LAW OF SETTLEMENT” is about.

  • sammaguire

    This FF/PD coalition has been the most successful administration in Europe. There have been problems but these have been problems of success (FG/Labour in the 80s didn’t have to worry too much about traffic congestion or coping with massive levels of immigration). This is why the opposition have to rely on a bit of dirt. Bertie is essentially a decent guy who had marital/financial problems in the early 1990s and friends/supporters helped him out.
    A relative of mine lost his house and most of his possessions in a fire a few years ago. The extended family and friends chipped in and helped him out in his time of need. No different than what was done for Bertie.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Hotdogx,

    the creation of sectarian stalet is s separate matter and the UK has many features worse than the ROI – but on the issue of personal corruption we have them licked.

    Sammaguire,

    FF have more ministers/senior party members in prison than any other country that I am aware of largely down to what is in general a very good system of tribunals. The PD have to take some credit for ensuring these tribunals have had some teeth. It is some situation where the rationale for the existence of a coalition party is to keep tabs on their larger partner because they are so corrupt.

  • I wonder…

    “My post above is addressed to SS.
    Posted by The Dubliner on May 06, 2007 @ 02:59 AM”

    Personally, I was asleep at 2-59 on the date in question.

  • I wonder…

    “the most successful administration in Europe.”
    That’s true, actually. saving Blair/Brown.

  • sammaguire

    Sammy McNally,

    FF have no Ministers/Senior Officials in jail. The only person I can think of is that Fahey guy (a councillor) in Galway who built a nice fence for himself with public money. He’s been fined, jailed and rightly fecked out of the party. As were other senior figures that you are obviously alluding to. Bertie is no Charlie.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Sammymaguire

    try this from Wiki and remember Charlie boy only got off becuase he was too old or too clever to go and some I think there was some quare fellah from Mayo as well.

    “During Ahern’s term Fianna Fáil faced increased criticism over corruption. Ray Burke was forced to resign as Minister for Foreign Affairs due to corruption and the late Liam Lawlor was also being investigated over payments he received. Both were eventually jailed. Also, details of former leader Charles Haughey’s illegal financial dealings came to light during Ahern’s tenure as Taoiseach.”

  • sammaguire

    Samuel McNally,

    So Ahern is guilty by association?
    I heard that Burke nearly choked Ahern after the Tribunal was established.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    “So Ahern is guilty by association”

    ‘Berty the bag boy’ actually signed cheques for Charlies personal use and fundraised for himself against his own guidelines. He also appointed Burke depite having been told he was a crook about to be found out – which he was. If he was treasurer of the local church fund be would not have kept his job.

  • sammaguire

    Bertie the bag boy should not have presigned the cheques,I agree. However this is done in many organisations for convenience. Also remember he was 30 years younger than Charlie. People in such circumstances tend to do what the Boss suggests otherwise they get nowhere in the organisation.